Obama: McCain Should Focus On Economy

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Barack Obama said Monday that John McCain is trying to shift attention from the troubled economy because the issue is bad for the Republican presidential nominee's campaign.

The Democratic presidential candidate told reporters in Asheville, N.C., that he "cannot imagine anything more important to talk about" than Americans' losing their jobs, health care and homes.

In published reports, an aide to McCain recently said his campaign would like to shift the presidential race's focus away from the economy, which has been a better issue for Democrats than Republicans. Since then, McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, has been questioning Obama's character based on his association with an incendiary pastor and a 1960s radical turned college professor.

Obama, referring to economic turmoil, said: "The notion that we would want to brush that aside and engage in the usual political shenanigans and smear tactics that have come to characterize too many political campaigns is not what the American people are looking for."

McCain continues to discuss economic conditions, but Obama says he needs to offer better and more specific remedies.

Obama renewed his call for extending unemployment insurance and for enacting a second stimulus package that would include tax cuts for millions of Americans. Congress has rejected those proposals in recent months.

Noting sharp drops in financial markets around the world, Obama said, "it is a reminder that the rescue package that was passed last week is not the end. It's just the beginning."

He was referring to a multibillion-dollar measure enabling the government to buy deeply devalued mortgage-backed securities in hopes of helping banks find money to make loans. Obama and McCain voted for the measure in the Senate.